Veteran Congress leader Manas Bhunia was on Monday appointed as the chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the state Assembly amid opposition from his own party which wanted to offer the post to CPM’s Sujan Chakrabarty.
This comes after Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan, at a joint press conference with Chakraborty, announced that PAC chairman’s post would go to the Left Front.
But soon after, Speaker Biman Banerjee announced the name of Bhunia as the PAC chairman. This led both Congress and CPM to walk out of the Assembly. The Speaker later told media persons that he had followed the convention by offering the post to the main Opposition.
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“It is a conspiracy of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in which the Speaker’s chair has been used. This is very disappointing. I will let my central leadership know about this,” Mannan alleged. Chakraborty too said: “The chief minister is playing dirty politics to break the alliance of Congress and CPM.”
The Congress, meanwhile, said Bhunia should resign from the post. Party chief whip Manoj Chakraborty said, “How can he (Bhunia) go against the decision of the party? He has to resign from the post of PAC chairman.”
State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also said Bhunia should tender his resignation. “It is unfortunate to see that the Speaker, who is supposed to be unbiased, has become subservient to the ruling party.
I have informed the Congress Legislative Party that Bhunia should not accept the post. This is an attempt by the ruling party to create a fissures in the alliance of CPM and Congress,” he claimed.
Asked whether Bhunia has betrayed the party, Mannan said: “If someone tries to play into the hands of the ruling party then it is his matter but everybody should remember one thing that people are watching us…”
Bhunia, who refused to comment on the matter, during the recess held a closed-door meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in her chamber in the Assembly. He also walked out of the meeting of Congress legislators called by Mannan and left the House after the announcement was made by the Speaker.
Earlier in the day, Mannan had written to the Speaker extending Congress’ support to Left Front Legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty for the post of PAC chairman.
“It will strengthen our alliance and the united fight against the unholy alliance of Trinamool and BJP. We have decided this from our end. The Left had not asked us for the post. Now, it is up to them (Left) to decide who will be the PAC chairman,” Mannan had said at a joint press conference with Chjakraborty on the last day of the Budget Session.
He added: “The matter was supposed to be decided by the AICC. But since today was the last date for submission (for the PAC post), I had a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi yesterday. She had approved that the Left would get the PAC post.”
Asked if it was an attempt to keep the Congress-CPM alliance alive, Mannan said: “This is nothing unprecedented… when the Left was the main Opposition, Congress MLA Gyansingh Sohanpal had also been made chairman of PAC.”
But soon after the press conference, the Speaker rejected Mannan’s recommendation to appoint Chakraborty and instead announced Bhunia’s name as the PAC chairman.
The Speaker claimed that Bhunia’s name was chosen from the list of recommendations provided by the Congress. It was learnt that besides Chakraborty and Bhunia, the names of Congress leaders Asit Mitra, Sukhbilas Verma and Shankar Singh were also recommended for the post.